Luciano “Lucky” Sibilla’s passion for food was sparked as a child, when he first tasted a puccia, a microregional bread found only in a few counties in the Southern Italian provence of Taranto. When baked in a hot oven, the light dough puffs into a puccia (“pouch” in Italian) before it is filled with the exceptional local meats, cheeses and produce.
“My first love of puccia was when my mom brought me from Belgium to the oven of Maria Scarpone,” he remembers. “(She) had the oldest wood burning over in the town of San Giorgio Jonico, where I was born. And every summer we would go back there to the seaside, and the smell of this bread in Maria’s oven was just— wow!”
Lucky began working as a barista in the region at age 13, then went on to wait tables before learning the art of making Southern Italian pizza. At 19, he joined the military and left Taranto for Northern Italy, where he got a job as a pizza maker and introduced puccias to the city of Genoa, where they’re making them to this day.
It was love that eventually brought Lucky to Austin, where he attended massage school and practiced as a therapist for four years. But, during that time, he felt a calling back to the warmth of the wood-burning oven.
“I come from a kitchen and that’s what I was always wanting to do in my life, sooner or later, somehow. Who knows what will come if you dream—if you believe in something?” he says. “I had (an image of) a puccia hanging on my refrigerator for four years in Austin. And every day I would look at it and say, ‘Yes, that’s my goal.’”
He started his business plan in August of 2009 and opened the trailer in August of 2010 with just $21,000— $5,000 of his own money, a $12,000 loan and $4,000 from a massage client who also believed in his dream.
Lucky found an oven in California which he purchased and attached to a small 2009 Magnum trailer. A wood-fueled fire on the side of it kept the oven blazing hot for him to bake made-to-order puccias outside The Tiniest Bar in Texas. It was an immediate hit.
“I had people ask me to invest in the company for over two years before I decided…to open a brick and mortar,” says Lucky. “They love my food and they’ve all seen me work for so many years and they believed in me. Therefore, I said, “Ok, let’s do it— it’s time. I’m 45, I need to do something with my life.”
Despite his years of hard work and dedication, Lucky insists the puccia itself is responsible for his success. “Once you taste the puccia, everything will make sense to you!” he promises. “Because the flavors are just out of this world but simple. Remember The Beatles? Two chords and look where they are now. It’s the same with Lucky’s Puccias. Keep it simple. The less you mess with food, the better off you are.”
Read more food trailer to brick-and-mortar stories from this multi-part series:
Writing: Veronica Meewes – @wellfedlife
Photography: Chris Perez – @citygrammag
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